Ahad Shahbaz, President & CEO
Ahad Shahbaz has directed and overseen over 30 programs on various university campuses in the U.S. and abroad. Inspired by John F. Kennedy’s global message of helping and learning from the world through the Peace Corps program, he began his career in teaching and learning with the Peace Corps in Afghanistan and subsequently continued with coordinating the Teacher Corps/Peace Corps language and cross-cultural project at SUNY/College at Buffalo. Having completed his tenure at SUNY/College, he taught English as a second language at SUNY/Buffalo followed by directing the Office of International Student Affairs at Snead State College in Alabama. His incurable addiction to language and culture subsequently took him to Saudi Arabia to set up the Ohio University intensive English program in Taif, Saudi Arabia. An active participant in multiple organizations, he served EnglishUSA (formerly American Association of Intensive English Programs) as its first elected Vice President for Standards; Carolina TESOL as president; the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation as a task force member; and NAFSA: Association of International Educators as a multi-year presenter on leadership, management, and cross-cultural training. He obtained his BA in Liberal Arts/Linguistics from SUNY/College at Buffalo and his MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from SUNY/Buffalo. Committed to transformative education through project-based curricula, he currently oversees U.S. and international programs focusing on academic preparation, language learning, and cross-cultural training.
David Parsons, Senior Executive Director
David Parsons has had extensive experience in teaching, research, and administration. Prior to joining INTERLINK, David directed a Kellogg Foundation-sponsored program on agriculture in the liberal arts: “Food, Peace, & International Development” at Wilmington College of Ohio. He has taught ESL and conducted cross-cultural research in Algeria. Since 1986, he has worked with INTERLINK as teacher, assistant director and director of two different campus programs. As former president of Carolina TESOL, he has been active in the region promoting standards in ESL programs. David holds a B.A. in History and Math from Guilford College; an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Northwestern University; and a MAT in English as a Second Language from the School for International Training. He speaks fluent French and is familiar with Arabic and Russian.
David Woodward, Senior Advisor, Strategic Outreach
As the president of the American Consortium of Universities, David Woodward brings a wealth of significant experience in global business, international program administration, language education, and cross-cultural communication. His expertise spans 40 years of facilitating global K-20 education and multi-regional business development. He has led multi-site organizations nationally, conducted marketing and outreach internationally, contributed to corporate board and organizational development, and has set up strategic relationships worldwide. David was born in Iran where he spent his early youth and developed a fascination for languages and cultures of the world. He holds four degrees from the University of Washington, including an MA in Higher Education with a specialization in Teaching English as a Second Language, an MA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, a BA in Linguistics, and a BA in History.
Shaima Shahbaz, Executive Director
A native of Colorado, Shaima Shahbaz has held various management posts in the US and abroad. After obtaining her BA in Sociology from the University of Colorado in Boulder, she volunteered as a project manager for the nonprofit Afghans4Tomorrow in Afghanistan. Her experience in Kabul inspired her to enroll at the U.N. University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica. With an M.A. in Responsible Management, she then worked with the nonprofit BeadforLife, conducting research and managing projects in rural Uganda. Having served INTERLINK since 2012, Shaima has worked in various capacities including as Project Manager, Communication Director, and Assistant Director of the INTERLINK institute at St. Ambrose University. As Executive Director, Shaima brings a strong appreciation for and commitment to INTERLINK’s vision, mission, and ethos of service.
Jennifer Guzmán, Director of Curriculum Training and Administration
Jennifer started her time with INTERLINK as an instructor in 2011. From that time forward, teaching English experientially using INTERLINK’s project-based curriculum became a career passion and focus. In 2013, she became an academic coordinator, helping to design professional development for her team and training new teachers. In 2015, she took on the role of Senior Academic Coordinator with expanded training responsibilities across INTERLINK’s U.S. institutes. She also facilitated review and development efforts focused on curriculum. Serving as an interim director of an INTERLINK institute from 2017 – 2018 and as a senior staff member, she gained the experience she needed to connect educational leadership with organizational management. In addition to having an M.A. in Intercultural Studies and TESOL, she has earned her certification as a senior professional in human resource management through the Society of Human Resource Management and has also been through additional training in experiential learning and intercultural communication at the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication. Before working for INTERLINK, Jennifer spent 10 years teaching English to Chinese university students in China’s Northeast. In 2014, she met her husband, Enrique, a musician and teacher from Mexico. In her spare time, she enjoys music, reading, writing, movies, keeping up with friends, working on her Chinese and Spanish, running, and cooking.
Allison Kerr, Project Manager
Allison (Alli) Kerr is native to Eastern Iowa and has strong roots in the Quad Cities. She graduated from St. Ambrose University in May 2017 and gained experience working with international students while working at the Center for International Education at SAU. Upon graduation she volunteered two years of AmeriCorps service working with at-risk youth in the Quad Cities. This experience, as well as her studies at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, London, sparked Alli’s passion for culture and service. Alli appreciates INTERLINK’s unique, holistic approach to education and its dedication to their students’ success beyond the INTERLINK program.
Monique Cooper, Controller
Monique Cooper has been in the accounting field for over 25 years. As a child, her family immigrated to the Denver area from the Netherlands. English is her second language. She earned her accounting certificate at Barnes Business College. While living in Southern California for 18 years she did the accounting for a personal injury attorney, cost accounting for a manufacturing company that produced nutritional supplements, and also in the auto repair industry. She returned to Denver in 2005 and worked as comptroller and office manager/overseas liaison for a clothing designer whose goods were manufactured in China and New Zealand. By joining the INTERLINK team she is able to continue to embrace the cultural diversity she experienced within her own family and in other accounting positions.